Thursday, July 27, 2006

The new Hezbollah

Dan Senor in the WSJ ($):

And much like Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in southern Lebanon, Moqtada al-Sadr has tried to establish a state within a state inside Iraq, albeit far more haphazardly. Mr. Sadr, for example, has set up an extrajudicial Sharia court system to put on trial those Iraqi Shiite "heretics" that do not strictly conform to his interpretation of Sharia law. Some "defendants" found guilty have been punished by death. The Mehdi army has also institutionalized its own checkpoints to fill the security vacuum in certain areas of the country -- supplanting what it regards as Iraq's weak national army. It has also infiltrated municipal police forces, particularly in the south.

Messrs. Nasrallah and Sadr both have dual-tracked political strategies: While they seek to establish their own autonomous governing structures, they also influence the national political process by electing allies to the parliament and bargaining for appointments to ministerial posts. While 12 Hezbollah loyalists now sit in Lebanon's parliament (as well as two ministers), over 30 self-identified Sadrists are members of Iraq's 275-seat National Assembly.

Pretty scary stuff.

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